The Early Bird Gets the Worm

November 25, 2011

Political Theory


Yep, it’s that time of year again! And no, I’m not talking about the holidays. It’s the biggest discount day of the year: Black Friday. Black Friday, for those who don’t get out much, is the Friday after Thanksgiving where shopping is at its prime. People camp outside retail stores for days prior just to be the first ones to get the biggest bang for their buck. Stores open in the wee hours of the morning expecting lines down the block of discount driven shoppers to rush in. But is it all really worth it?

Most people claim to be huge Black Friday fanatics; integrating this early rise shopping ritual to be a tradition throughout the years. Nonetheless, it can be easily noticed that those who don’t participate feel as if they are missing out on something. We are constantly being reminded about all the spectacular deals going on through radio and T.V. commercials, coupons in the mail and newspaper, as well as simply by word of mouth. In recent years, even our email inboxes are bombarded with Black Friday mantras. The culmination of all of this hype serves as a windfall to stores like Kohls, Target, Best Buy, and Walmart. In fact, this year, these stores are opening at midnight to reel in customers earlier than ever before. Walmart is even opening at a 10 p.m., which is still 2 hours before Thanksgiving technically ends! In essence, Black Friday has gone ballistic. With these early times, people are losing the true meaning of what Thanksgiving is actually all about.

Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks to those who are most important in our lives and spending cherished time with them whether it be in front of the TV watching a football game or a movie or sitting at the dining room table with our pants undone. By starting Black Friday so early this year, a group of people in America are losing face-time with their family by occupying the BestBuy parking lot instead of gathering around the dinner table. In fact, there are plenty of people who will skip the traditional Thanksgiving meal altogether to garner the coveted first space in line. Not to mention the time that employees are forced to put into their work schedule instead of with their families. It’s a family’s choice to be so dedicated to Black Friday that they have to skip the holiday for it, but the employees have no choice but to attend to their job.

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Another interesting spin on the “holiday” is the effect, or perhaps lack of effect, that online shopping has on Black Friday. You would think with that the trendy online shopping behavior would be the perfect solution because it allows people to shop for the same bargains without leaving their family and without enduring the crazy crowds and long lines. However, because the press around Black Friday is more insane than ever this year, online shopping may not have as much of an impact as it can.

The question this poses to me is what does this public relations scandal (if you can call it that) say about American society as a whole? Sadly, I think this emphasis on Black Friday really brings out the shift in values our country has faced over the past decades. As America has become one of the most technologically advanced places in the world, we have a constant need for the next best thing, making material items of upmost importance in our lives. Also, with such a depressing economy as ours of late, we look for the best bargain we can find to get these products. Black Friday is the perfect way for people to get the things they want at the best price they can find.

Are people really getting that much of a bargain that its worth skipping out on a family holiday for? What it all comes down to when deciding if Black Friday shopping is worth giving up a real Thanksgiving is weighing out the costs and benefits. If you ask me, I value my family too much to let a day of shopping come between some quality time together. I do think that Black Friday is a great way to advertise bargains and create hype for some beneficial holiday shopping. However, I strongly feel that this shopping holiday should fall a few days after Thanksgiving that way it doesn’t interfere with such an important real holiday in American society.

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5 Comments on “The Early Bird Gets the Worm”

  1. Danielle Studenberg Says:

    I completely agree with you that America’s values have changed in recent years. It’s sad that the holiday where we are supposed to value family and togetherness has been overshadowed by shopping and discount stores. I don’t think the time spent waiting in line for stores is worth taking time away from family and friends. Although there are great shopping deals the chaos is too much to deal with on a holiday. I think it puts unnecessary burden on the family during a time when they should be sitting at a table together having dinner.

    In my opinion the whole “holiday” of Black Friday should stop altogether. These discounts should start after Thanksgiving, but last maybe for a week so the rush doesn’t happen. Malls and stores become flooded with people where, in this hectic situation, they can’t even find what they’re looking for. The benefits of Black Friday definitely do not outweigh the costs.

  2. run4joy59 Says:

    I work in retail and have had to work on thanksgiving for the past three years…not too crazy about it, but what can you do if you want to keep your job? I’m happy to report that all I bought today was a newspaper, a pack of gum and four bags of ice for work…do most of my shopping online these days…I work in the madness enough, have no desire to spend my free time dealing with it…

  3. Baihan Li Says:

    As an international student, I was technically surprised by those Americans who get up at 1 am to wait in the penetrating winds.

    I have to admit this holiday is crazy. However, according to the theory of anthropology, it is the result of natural evolution. More precisely, this holiday chooses the best way for it to survive in the society. People indeed spend less time on telling their feeling of thanks on this day; however, we cannot say that the holiday is losing its meaning. For those early immigrants who were helped by Indians, their primary feeling might be as happy and joyful as ours which derived from the fulfillment of obtaining what we have been desiring for the whole year. It might be meaningless to criticize people are paying more attention on shopping than on praying. It might be way that the festival could survive.

  4. joethahn Says:

    I agree with you that many families in the United States have lost the true sense of Thanksgiving, as cliché as it sounds, but coming to college has turned me into a more frugal person. I am constantly broke with paying for books, food, clubs, and the occasional shopping spree (at most 50 bucks). For me black Friday is the perfect time to buy presents for my family members. I know that just me being with my family is enough for them, but giving back in the form of presents during Christmas is also very important because it shows that they were in your thoughts. In your post you made it seem as if Black Friday defeats the purpose of Thanksgiving because it stops family from being together. In my family it actually serves the opposite. After a large Thanksgiving meal my family and I usually take a nap and then we wake up and go to the many stores that participate in Black Friday together. One of the most enjoyable parts actually becomes standing in the long line for a couple hours because it gives my family and me a chance to stop and talk. This year the conversations allowed my parents to better understand at what point in my life I was at and on the other hand I was able to learn more about my parents’ lives as they were growing up. Black Friday may seem like an event that is far from the true idea of Thanksgiving, since it is surrounded by materialism, but my family takes advantage of it to cherish the time that we spend together.

  5. zrobbins24 Says:

    Personally, I have never gone out shopping on Black Friday. Thanksgiving is a time for my family to be together each year. In fact, our family vacation every year takes place during Thanksgiving. Since I have not actually participated in the “holiday” of Black Friday, I can only speculate about it from what I have read and heard.

    This year, I feel it was more hectic than ever. I am from Connecticut and in the news this weekend was a story about a man that was tased at a local mall on Black Friday because he pushed over an eleven-year old child waiting in line with his father for a video game. The man, after pushing over the child, instigated a fight with the father and another patron who tried to help the child back up. After the police intervened and ordered them to stop fighting, the man threw one more punch after the others stopped. The man is now facing charges.

    I feel that Black Friday has become more of a spectacle and dangerous than being fun and safe. I understand the objective behind going shopping and receiving all of the discounts, but I do not think it is worth it. Perhaps, if the discounts were continued for a week, like Danielle proposed, a lot of the danger would disappear and it would become more of an enjoyable and family oriented “holiday.”

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